POTD Kelly Johnson, 2B

San-Man answered our Q's on Kelly Johnson, which got Eye-Gor to noodling around in the cave...

KJ's actually a pretty clear template from a sabermetric standpoint.  He got off track by (1) cutting down his swing (a lot) to make contact, and (2) expanding his strike zone (a lot) to not make contact.

Could a great batting coach fix him?  Well, you be da judge...

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=== What Time Is the Game Over, Dept. ===

KJ's contact rate on swings in the zone went wayyyyyy up in 2009 ... Johnson made contact on a preposterous (for him) 94% of all swings, when the ball was inside the strike zone.

94% - KJ

79% - Dunn

78% - Howard

77% - Cust

75% - Branyan

Raul Ibanez was at 82%, Adam Jones at 83%, Jason Bay at 80%, Mike Cameron at 82% ... contact rate in the strike zone essentially sorts ML hitters by who is hitting for power (or trying to). 

Go to fangraphs, batters, plate discipline, sort by Z-Contact%, and you'll see the names line up beautifully in terms of how hard they're swinging.  (You'll also get a laugh out of Albert Pujols' stats.)

Other guys in Kelly Johnson's sky-high Z-Contact% range ... Christian Guzman, Jimmy Rollins, David DeJesus, Rafael Furcal, Chone Figgins.  You don't make contact with everything by putting your backside into it, kiddies.  You make contact with everything by arm-swinging.

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=== Dumb Luck Dept. ===

Just the same, a pepper swing shouldn't produce the .240'ish BABIP that KJ ran.  That's getting into pitcher-at-the-plate BABIP.

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=== Not the Best Plate Strategy, Keed ===

What is really interesting is that while KJ cut down his swing to make more contact, he also wayyyyyy expanded his strike zone -- swinging at far more pitches outside the zone.  

Here is a fine article by Brian Joura on it.  KJ swung at 18% of O-Zone's in 200 ... but 24-25% the last two years.  Yowch.

So what happens if you cut down your swing to be sure you make contact, and then start swinging at pitchers' pitches?   Well, you're going to roll over a lot of grounders to the shortstop and second baseman.  

KJ doesn't have the speed to slap the ball around.  He's going to run a lousy BABIP when he's arm-swinging at pitchers' pitches.

.............

The fact that KJ felt the need to cut down his swing suggests that he felt beaten by ML pitchers in 2008-09 ... and the fact that he stopped recognizing strikes suggests that he got all messed up inside his head.

KJ looks like a pretty serious reclamation project to me:  he's got to get back to contracting his zone, waiting for his pitch, and hitting the ball hard ... but his own opinion is that he's not capable of doing that.

It would be a masterly job of coaching that recovered him.

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=== Opportunity Fire for the Right Sargeant ===

Kelly Johnson, when right, has been an Orlando Hudson comp offensively -- solid AVG, 60 walks, good gap power, "meh" defensively as Sandy put it.

Right now, he's (evidently) available cheap.  He's either a free agent after Dec. 12 or available (undoubtedly) for a grade B prospect prior.  At $3M or so, you supposedly save $5M a season (??) off Orlando Hudson.  That's more talent someplace else on your roster.

...........

The decision would stand or fall with some coach being V-E-R-Y confident that KJ could get back to his get-your-pitch-and-hit-it-hard game.  Whether the M's coaches think that, who knows.

The ideal diagnosis would be, KJ (1) opened up his strike zone, swinging at sucker pitches, and THEN (2) cut down his swing in self-defense, following the lousy results.  If so, then simply getting him to cut down the strike zone, could naturally restore his aggressiveness, right?

.........

Me?  I'll believe it when I see it.  If KJ doesn't think he can hit, why should I think so?  That's not a swipe; it's an analysis.  KJ's opinion on his own ability is very relevant.

But the M's brain trust is super-confident about reclamation projects, so, eyes slideways I guess.

Cheers,

Dr D

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Bat571LaRoche WAS FRAMED ! (very nicely by Zunino - nice job, Mike!)1 day 1 hour ago
SABR MattI am reminded of 2007. The whole pitching staff looks out of gas. We're in trouble.1 day 2 hours ago
merksRendooon!1 day 3 hours ago
PrairiedogIf indeed the name calling was in any way racist (that is IF) by the scout (based on rumor to this point) he deserves to loose his job. Yes self control on Montero's part should exist but racial slurs by "one of your own" ,then no excuse whatsoever!" Lets see what all the facts are.1 day 5 hours ago
rick82Two frustrated guys who probably want to be higher up in the system.1 day 6 hours ago
SABR MattYeah...I don't think this says one darned thing about Zduriencik. I think this scout probably had a fight with his wife or found out he didn't get approved for a home loan and vented on a player who he didn't like.1 day 7 hours ago
rick82Seems like a lot of folks think this says something about Jack's dysfunctional regime. But wow, talk about a mountain out of a molehill. They both work for the Mariners? This is simple. You bring the 52 year old scout and the 24 year old prospect into the room, and you talk it out, have them apologize where necessary and shake hands, and make sure something like this doesn't happen again. And, yeah, if the story is true, the scout is taken to a back room by Jack and read the riot act for being an idiot, because he sure as heck is supposed to know better.1 day 7 hours ago
MtGrizzlyWe should probably wait to pass judgement until all the facts come out.1 day 8 hours ago
csiemsButch Baccala, national cross-checker. Here's his story: http://seattletimes.com/html/mariners/2024418207_montero30xml.html and here is a blog he used to run when he was with the Reds (they made him stop): http://baseballthrumyeyes.typepad.com/1 day 10 hours ago
SpectatorBut I don't know what the crosschecker was thinking either. Don't think he's getting paid to be a semi-clever motivator. Just strange all the way around.1 day 11 hours ago
SpectatorI would guess that Montero's long strange trip to Marinerland is done.1 day 11 hours ago
phxterryMontero incident now a news item on ESPN - wonder what Montero's trade value is right now? Who would have ever thunk that the best part of the Montero-Pinada trade for the M's would be Hector Noesi, who has cracked the White Sox rotation and is starting every 5 days.1 day 11 hours ago
csiemsAn M's cross-checker screams vaguely racist taunts at a player and then sends him an ice cream: A) This isn't some nobody, he oversees a region of the US and chances are we've heard of this guy. B) WTF? Fire that guy immediately. I think Montero is justified. C) How low is morale in this organization right now that a staff member is actively rooting against his player? If this is how the organization is run, it's no wonder that the team has developed so few hitters.1 day 12 hours ago
MtGrizzlyWow, Montero. Comedic points to the guy that bought an ice cream sandwich and sent it to him in the dugout.1 day 15 hours ago
Gordon GrossWell , As Cab is a good hitter. Not our hitter, but a decent one.1 day 16 hours ago